Wheeling approves penny-per-push tax on video gambling, but start date not set
In a rushed move prompted by action in Springfield, Wheeling trustees have approved a penny-per-push tax on video gambling.
What they didn't do, however, is decide when gamblers and business owners will have to start paying the tax.
The village board was among several suburban municipal agencies to cast such votes during special meetings Sunday. Others did so earlier in the month.
The votes were prompted by the Illinois General Assembly's approval Friday of legislation prohibiting municipalities from adopting the tax after Sunday.
Officials in Mount Prospect, Hanover Park, Hoffman Estates, Schaumburg, Algonquin and Lake in the Hills are among others that have approved the tax. Collection start dates vary.
Wheeling's attorney, James Ferolo, urged trustees not to wait too long to start collecting the tax. A delay, he said, could open the tax to a legal challenge.
"It shouldn't be something we put on a shelf," Ferolo said.
Wheeling has 107 video gambling machines at 20 locations.
They generate $135,000 in licensing fees and $360,000 in tax annually, Village Manager Jon Sfondilis said in an email. The money goes into the village's general fund.
Although a reliable estimate wasn't available, a penny-per-push tax could double or even triple the village's tax revenue from video gambling, Sfondilis said.
Wheeling's board voted 5-0 to create the tax. Trustees Joe Vito and Mary Krueger were absent from the special meeting due to schedule conflicts, Sfondilis said.
Representatives of Support Main Street Illinois, a group that promotes state legislation favoring the video gambling industry, and Lucky Street Gaming, a Rockford-based video gambling terminal operator, spoke against the proposal before the board voted. They said it will drive gamblers to gambling-friendly businesses in towns that don't charge the tax.
• Daily Herald staff writer Steve Zalusky contributed to this report.